GOVERNMENT funding could be sought to help foot the bill for repairs to Watchet's harbour wall after a collapse at the end of last year.

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has offered to seek Government help towards the huge cost of repairs to Watchet’s marina and harbour after Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) officials revealed they are facing a £740,000 bill for strengthening part of the marina’s failing inner wall.

And a further problem has emerged on the outer wall of the harbour, part of which was washed away in storms last month.

No estimate has yet been given of the cost of repairs but they are likely to push the council’s eventual liability to around £1 million.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said spending on that scale was inevitably going to put a strain on the authority’s finances.

“But there is no option but to carry out the work – and as rapidly as possible” he said. “The one lesson that has been learned from other cases like this around the coasts is that if a relatively small problem is left untreated it very soon develops into a large one.

“And in Watchet’s case if the harbour or marina walls fail the impact on the town will be enormous.”

READ MORE: Report reveals £740,000 bill to repair Watchet harbour wall

Locals say problems have been building up in the marina for several years as it has gradually filled with silt.

And an engineering study carried out years ago showed that although the harbour apparently sits at a relatively sheltered location in the Bristol Channel it is actually exposed to massive wave forces generated far out in the Atlantic.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said Watchet’s economy depended on the marina being made safe and returned to full working order – and to the harbour being protected from further potentially catastrophic collapse.

“I think everyone realises the seriousness of the situation and I am therefore more than happy to do whatever I can to persuade the Government to provide funding to underwrite at least some of the cost of repairs,” he said.

“This is an exceptional combination of events which has created an exceptional risk and I therefore feel the Government should treat it as an exceptional case.”

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Earlier this month, a report by SWT localities manager, Chris Hall, revealed the cost of the repairs would total around £740,000.

"It is clear from the site investigation works that the central part of the structure is nearing the end of its life and were there to be no maintenance then it will inevitably fail at some point in the future," it said.